Chris Froome not relying on time trials for Giro d'Italia title

Chris Froome (Team Sky) has begun his final countdown to the Giro d’Italia seemingly determined to keep the issues with his salbutamol test at bay and focussed fully on racing.

Froome admitted that with Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) as a new rival for the GC battle, he will have to take a different tactic than he has in his four Tour de France victories. "I'm not going to be able to rely on time trialling to win the Giro. The race [route] is extremely well-balanced, there are a lot of time trials, but also mountains. There's not going to be one terrain that wins this Giro, it's going to have to be a different tactic.

"It's special for me to come here and target the Giro for the first time," Froome continued. "My career started in Italy, my first few years were living in Italy and it's special to be here. This has never been a big goal of mine 'til now, but from the feeling I had at the Tour of the Alps, I feel I'm ready for this, and I've got a fantastic team to support me. I'm feeling as good as I've ever felt."

The Briton could not avoid repeated questions about his case again at the pre-race press conference, but he gave answers almost identical to those he has provided since the start of the season and his first race of the year at the Ruta del Sol.

Flanked by his seven teammates for the Giro, as well as chief sports director for the race, Nicolas Portal, and Team Principal David Brailsford at the end of the line, Froome came out with the same lines as before: I can understand the frustration, nothing says I shouldn't be here racing, this was supposed to be a confidential process.

But the first question, asked almost apologetically by an Italian journalist, nonetheless went straight to the heart of an issue that may hang over this Giro d'Italia all the way from Jerusalem to Rome and possibly beyond: How did Froome handle the risk that his Giro d'Italia result could be cancelled, as had happened in the past, with Alberto Contador?

"This is a very different situation to the one you've just mentioned," Froome said. "But that's something I've come to this race not even thinking of. My starting point is that I've done nothing wrong. There's nothing that says I shouldn't be here racing."

Froome said that he had no updates, either, at this point in time.

"I can understand the frustration. Obviously, this whole process was meant to have been a confidential process, and we're going to respect that," he said. "There's a process in place for me to demonstrate that I've done nothing wrong, and that's what I intend to do. I'm not going to give a running commentary. When there is something new, then we'll talk about it. At the moment we're in the middle of that process set out by the UCI."

The other million-dollar question, asked, also, for the umpteenth time, was what Froome thought about those who have claimed he should not be there at the Giro d'Italia start.

"Everyone is entitled to an opinion, that's understandable, and I can understand that people are frustrated by a lack of information," he said. "But this is a process, obviously, that was meant to have been confidential and I'm confident people will see it from my point of view when all the details are out there."

Photo: Bettini

Looking at Tom Dumoulin and his failure to do any recons of the Giro stages, Froome gave an equally measured response.

"Everyone has got their own approach to the race, that's part of the game," Froome said. "Some people see a lot of stages, others don't. I guess everyone is limited with the amount of time, and given the race start here in Jerusalem then on to Sicily and then mainland it's difficult to cover all the different stages. But I have been to see a few key stages, on the Zoncolan and also the time trial, which is in the same area."

As for the Colle delle Finestre, Froome said he has seen that one before.

Looking at the Israel depart, "The time trial [on stage one] is a big opportunity for the GC guys, obviously road conditions, markings and furniture are different to what we're used to. We're going to have to be attentive for the next few days, and see what comes our way."

The press conference then swung back to Christian Prudhomme's declarations that the situation regarding Froome's salbutamol question could be resolved before the Tour de France. Was he concerned?

"I'm not thinking about July," he said. "I'm here to give my absolute best in the next three weeks with the aim of being on the top step once we reach Rome."

The press conference then reverted to the other side of the coin, the normal racing aspect, and when Froome had opted, finally, to battle for the one Grand Tour missing in his palmares.

"I came to this decision with the team over the winter, so I'm really excited to be back," he said. "It's almost a decade since I raced the Giro, and now I'm coming to try and win it."

Trying to win the Giro following the Tour and Vuelta, was "a huge part of the decision-making process for me. I can't remember the last rider to win all three Grand Tours consecutively like that."

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